Go For It, Nakamura! – Syundei (Seven Seas / Macmillan)
Go For It, Nakamura! is a somewhat cute manga about a shy gay boy who finds it tough to talk to his crush. It does a reasonably good job of portraying Nakamura’s awkwardness, but there’s really not much substance here. The events of the story follow the sort of vignettes one can find in any high-school slice-of-life story from Japan, to the extent that they don’t really feel particular to these characters. Syundei’s willingness to indulge in absurd plots like that of the school play makes the book’s choice to avoid any kind of actual boy-boy action feel like a conscious tease. Also, that Nakamura! doesn’t really get into any high school experiences that are characteristically male substantiates the occasional criticism that yaoi books are stories about women written as men, a choice that disappears both women and gay men from their own stories. I can’t say any of this offended me, but the book just didn’t seem to have any angle or flavor, so I wouldn’t really recommend it.
Justice League Dark #1 – Tynion IV / Martinez Bueno / Fernandez / Anderson / Leigh (DC)
Coming out of No Justice I wanted to take a look at all the new Justice League books but thought that the squad that had the least grounding at that time was the new “Dark” roster. It’s a team of oddballs, pairing up traditional figures like Swamp Thing and Zatanna with Wonder Woman and oddball characters Detective Chimp and Man-Bat, with nary a chain-smoking English dude in sight. I still don’t know if I’m completely sold on this book: its central dilemma is one that probably has to be cheesed out of and this first issue doesn’t give the main villain, the Upside Down Man, much of a spotlight. Tynion, however, nails the characterization on Bobo and Langstrom, and makes the sale on why this team needs to be acting rather than the fractious and self-absorbed forces that consider themselves the heart of magic in the DC universe. He gets bonus points for Klarion’s little bit. The art is also stellar. This is a strong debut, definitely enough to get me to come back.